2 Nephi 31:20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life. Joseph B. Wirthlin said: Perseverance means to continue in a given course until we have reached a goal or objective, regardless of obstacles, opposition, and other counterinfluences. Paul Harvey, a famous news analyst and author, once said: “Someday I hope to enjoy enough of what the world calls success so that someone will ask me, ‘What’s the secret of it?’ I shall say simply this: ‘I get up when I fall down.’” Elder Faust said, “Perseverance is demonstrated by those who keep going when the going gets tough, who don’t give up even when others say, “It can’t be done.” President Monson told this story on perseverance: in July of 1976, runner Garry Bjorklund was determined to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team’s 10,000-meter race which would be run at the Montreal Olympics. Halfway through the grinding qualifying race, however, he lost his left shoe. What would you and 3 I do if that were our experience? I suppose he could have given up and stopped. He could have blamed his bad luck and lost the opportunity of participating in the greatest race of his life, but this champion athlete did not do that. He ran on without his shoe. He knew that he would have to run faster than he had ever run in his life. He knew that his competitors now had an advantage that they did not have at the beginning of the race. Over that cinder track he ran, with one shoe on and one shoe off, finishing third and qualifying for the opportunity to participate in the race for the gold medal. His own running time was the best he had ever recorded. He put forth the effort necessary to achieve his goal. Elder Uchtdorf gave the example in the past conference about how he and his wife love to ride bicycles. He quoted, “We’ve been riding long enough that we don’t even think about that—it has become normal and natural for us. But whenever I watch someone learning to ride a bike for the first time, I’m reminded that it’s not easy balancing yourself on those two narrow wheels. It takes time. It takes practice. It takes patience. It even takes falling down a time or two. Most of all, those who succeed in balancing on a bicycle learn these important tips: Don’t look at your feet. Look ahead. Keep your eyes on the road in front of you. Focus on your destination. And get pedaling. Staying balanced is all about moving forward.
Don’t look at your feet—I translated this to mean that we should not concentrate on ourselves. We should not let our weaknesses and trials be the focus of our life. If we are constantly watching our feet, doubt and fear set in. I also think we could add—“Don’t look at other’s feet!”
--Leo Tolstoy wrote once of a priest who was criticized by one of his congregants for not living as resolutely as he should, the critic concluding that the principles the erring preacher taught must therefore also be erroneous. In response to that criticism, the priest says: “Look at my life now and compare it to my former life. You will see that I am trying to live out the truth I proclaim.” Unable to live up to the high ideals he taught, the priest admits he has failed. But he cries: “Attack me, if you wish, I do this myself, but don’t attack … the path I follow. … If I know the way home but am walking along it drunkenly, is it any less the right way simply because I am staggering from side to side? “… Do not gleefully shout, ‘Look at him! … There he is crawling into a bog!’ No, do not gloat, but give … your help to anyone trying to walk the road back to God.”
Keep your eyes on the road in front of you—This makes me think of my son Cade who is currently serving as a missionary in Colombia. His first few months were hard. He felt insecure with his Spanish. He had a difficult trainer that loved to sleep, a lot! He was still learning the doctrine. It is a lot we ask of our young 18 year olds. When I talk to him every week I am in awe at what the Lord has done with him. He struggles with his English now and he is immersed in missionary work. He loves the people. His testimony is strong and he perseveres with Faith.
Focus on your destination==Elder Uchtdorf said, “our common, overall objective is to follow the Way of our Master, Jesus Christ, and return to the presence of our beloved Father in Heaven. This objective must remain constant and consistent, whoever we are and whatever else is happening in our lives.”
Keep pedaling and move forward-- The airplane gains no altitude sitting on the runway. Even on a windy day, enough lift isn’t created unless the airplane is moving forward, with enough thrust to counteract the forces holding it back.
Just as forward momentum keeps a bicycle balanced and upright, moving forward helps an aircraft overcome the pull of gravity and drag. I love this analogy. Sometimes we are on a smooth path. Sometimes we are struggling to go uphill. Sometimes we get passed. Sometimes things get bumpy. But is we just keep pedaling and moving forward and persevere…we will be ok. Alma 36:3 tells us: 3 And now, O my son Helaman, behold, thou art in thy youth, and therefore, I beseech of thee that thou wilt hear my words and learn of me; for I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day. In his final days, Winston Churchill was being honored in a meeting with Parliament. Anybody who was anybody in Great Britain was assembled there and they called upon this magnificent statesman to give his final speech. Everyone was anxious and waiting with anticipation to record and experience this historical moment. Winston Churchill’s final speech was just seven words long, and I commend it to you. With the gallery quiet and tense and leaning forward in their seats, this great, grand old bulldog of the British Empire—cane between his legs, two hands clasped on the top, jaw protruding, looking at that auspicious crowd—said the first three words of his last sermon. “NEVER GIVE UP.” Then he paused, looked again, and said the last four words. “NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP.” Elder Uchtdorf said this about our pioneers,” I doubt that many of those who set foot on that journey really understood what they were getting into or that they looked forward to the daily effort it eventually required. But they did know it was going to be hard and that there was a possibility they or someone they loved would not finish the journey. And yet they came. By the tens of thousands they came. And we—the Church, the nation, and even the world—are richer because they came. Let it be said that we persevered. Let it be said that we did not give up. 65 t It is my testimony that if we keep pedaling and keep our focus on Jesus Christ we will return to Our Father and receive Eternal Life. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen